In Crime Story, Jackie Chan makes his only entry (so far) into the genre of police procedural thrillers. Directed by Kirk Wong (Rock and Roll Cop, Organized Crime and Triad Bureau), Crime Story is a long way from the action comedies at which Chan excels. This isn't Jackie's best film, nor is it even his best dramatic performance, but it is worthwhile viewing.
Jackie plays a cop (named Jackie) in the Hong Kong CID who, at the beginning of the film at least, is suffering from traumatic stress disorder after a particularly brutal shoot-out. He is then assigned to protect a budding slumlord who fears that he is the target of a kidnapping plot. Of course, the businessman, Wong, is kidnapped and Jackie now has to find a way to bring him back alive. Little does Jackie know that the ring of kidnappers includes Hung, a respected detective on the force. As the plot unravels, Jackie must convince Wong's wife to withhold the ransom money from the kidnappers long enough for him to hunt them down.
Crime Story is much darker and more serious than many of his films, both before and since. There is much less verbal comedy than usual, and (unfortunately) more gunplay than martial arts. The words "hard boiled" definitely come to mind here. In many ways, it's not a typical Chan movie.
For instance, a scene near the beginning of the film shows Jackie trying to calm down a group of angry workers who haven't been paid for their labor by Wong. Jackie implores them to play by the rules and take their grievances to the authorities rather than simply lynching Wong. It's a tense scene, and Chan's character has to balance the safety of his own men, his duty to protect Wong, and the righteous anger of the workers, who are close to rioting. It's a scene you would never see in a film like Drunken Master or Rumble in the Bronx.
The action, too, is quite different. It's nearly an hour into the film when we see the first real martial-arts fight. Prior to that we have one brutal gunfight after another, usually ending in a victory for the bad guys. In fact, the HK police force looks pretty inept for the first half of the film.
There is a blow-out of a fight at the end, climaxing with a whole apartment building blowing up, that will probably keep rabid martial arts fans happy. One of the more prominent thugs during this scene is Ken Lo, Jackie's real-life bodyguard. Lo played the last guy Jackie fought in Drunken Master II. Here, he kisses Jackie full on the mouth. We will let the readers draw their own conclusions.
The crooked Detective Hung.
There is some important career advice here: Never become a motorcycle cop in Hong Kong. They don't live the glamorous lives of Ponch and John on 'CHiPs': getting beautiful ladies, surveying the remains of that week's Rube Goldberg-esque car crash, and going on to star in infomercials and Univision soaps. No, in Hong Kong the motorcycle cops are more like red-shirted ensigns in Star Trek -- they're always the first to die. In Crime Story, the kidnappers are chased down a winding road by Jackie and two motorcycle cops. One of the cops ends up being hit by the bad guy's car, while the other skids out and ends up with his head jammed under a highway guard rail.
The gunfights aren't the only sources of brutality in this film. The behavior of the kidnappers is beyond cold-blooded. During the kidnapping itself, Wong's 'delicate' wife has a heart attack. Knowing that they need her to transfer Wong's millions to their bank accounts, the conspirators literally jump-start her heart with a car battery while Wong looks on. Later, when the kidnappers hold Wong on a boat, they hide him from a harbor patrol search by dumping him overboard until the search is over.
Those of you who have seen Chan films like First Strike may be thinking to yourselves "Hey! This doesn't sound like the funny Jackie Chan I know!" You're right; it isn't. But it is a very good crime film which showcases Chan's more serious acting style and puts an emphasis on plot like none of his other films. It's definitely worth a look to see this actor's varied talents.